The Consortium benefits from the mentorship and sage counsel of the following local and national advisors. Their appearance here also conveys our esteem for their good work.
Big Picture Learning Team
This may go without saying since the Consortium is a regional initiative of Big Picture Learning, but we thought it worth mention that we are in constant collaboration with the co-founders, co-executive directors, regional directors, and others of the close-knit family that is the BPL staff. Additionally, we routinely draw on the expertise of students, alumni, and staff in Big Picture schools in Washington, Idaho, and Oregon to inform our work on school design, school improvement, and leadership development.
Sili Savusa is currently the executive director of the White Center Community Development Association, which promotes the development of White Center through authentic leadership opportunities and community-led, neighborhood initiatives. She also serves on the Governor’s Commission on Closing the Achievement Gap, the Washington State Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs committee, Community Center for Education Results steering committee, and was recently appointed to the Highline Community College Board of Trustees.
Previously Sili served as the Highline School Board Director and Family Center Coordinator for Southwest Youth and Family Services. She is also the founder of the first Samoan/Pacific Islander Parent Teacher Student Association in the nation, which works to address education issues impacting Pacific Islander students and their families.
Sili knows our work well from her history in Highline through the development of the Highline Big Picture Schools. She supports our networking and community engagement, and just thinking about Sili refocuses us on the needs of students and reminds us to be courageous.
Michael Soguero has been a leader in education reform since 1993 when he was a founding member of Eagle Rock School & Professional Development Center (PDC) development team in Estes Park Colorado which was created as a laboratory to succeed at reengaging at-risk high school youth in their education. This formative experience laid the groundwork for becoming a leader in the burgeoning high school reform movement in New York City. While in New York, he had a series of experiences that concluded in a deep and profound understanding of organizational development and specifically transformational high school design.
Michael became the Co-Director of the School for the Physical City and later the Founder and Director of the Bronx Guild where his work was held up as an exemplar of effective small school leadership. His success is best seen through significantly higher graduation rates than other peer institutions. He quickly became a trusted mentor to other aspiring principals and a partner for teacher training with the Teachers College at Columbia University. His school was recognized by Teachers College for“Excellence in Teaching.” This experience led Michael to become a lead facilitator for the Scaffolded Apprenticeship program within the New York City Leadership Academy where he sharpened his facilitation skills, his broad understanding of urban school reform, and the power of dynamic leadership as a means to reform schools and change the lives of students.
After nearly 10 years in New York City, Michael returned to Eagle Rock as the Director of Professional Development where he is currently employed. The Professional Development Center was created by American Honda Education Corporation to help transform high school education in the United States. Michael has made great strides in realizing that mission earning a 95 percent satisfaction rate from 300 clients served last year including the Big Picture Schools network, the Leadership High School Network in Albuquerque NM, and many individual schools participating in the Coalition of Essential Schools. He is an avid reader and passionate about the latest organizational development theories and facilitation practices.
Michael advises the Consortium on effective adult learning practices, and his team from Eagle Rock helps the Consortium design and facilitate teacher- and principal learning. This work currently focuses on supporting leaders in the first cohort of School Foundry through Dan Condon's co-design and facilitation of cohort convenings.
Jay is the co-founder and CEO of Actively Learn, an immersive and collaborative digital reading platform. Jay’s experience spans several sectors with one common theme - using technology to solve important problems. Prior to launching Actively Learn, he worked at Microsoft as a Director of Bing Mobile strategy and business development, where he led a billion dollar search and commerce deal with Nokia. Previously, he improved systems and processes at a startup microfinance organization in Honduras, led manpower and process design as one of the first 25 members of the Transportation Security Administration, and helped launch a web content management startup. Jay received his MBA from Harvard Business School and a B.S. in Economics and Public Policy from Duke.
Jay’s favorite book in high school was Of Human Bondage, because his teacher pushed him to constantly ask, “which is better to follow, passion or reason?” Maybe because of what happened with main character Philip, Jay tends to follow reason.
Jay offers great feedback on the Consortium's clarity of focus, and has most recently helped advise the first cohort of School Foundry on how best to engage the start-up community to provide feedback to the work of designing and launching innovative schools.
Rob Riordan is a co-founder of High Tech High (HTH) and President of the HTH Graduate School of Education. A teacher, trainer, and program developer for over 40 years, he has worked with teams to develop 14 new schools (11 at High Tech High) spanning the K-12 years. As a long-time teacher at the Cambridge (MA) Rindge and Latin School, Rob developed an award-winning writing center and two pioneering high school internship programs. Later, under the auspices of the Office of Vocational and Adult Education in the U.S. Department of Education, he directed the New Urban High School project that led to the development of High Tech High. Rob is co-author, with Adria Steinberg and Kathleen Cushman, of Schooling for the Real World: The Essential Guide to Rigorous and Relevant Learning (Jossey Bass, 1999).
In addition to the ongoing role model that is the HTH Graduate School of Education, Rob helped us refine our school design attributes and advises the Consortium on what's most important for students as well as developing powerful adult learning habits and culture among colleagues from different schools. Rob also serves as a mentor to the participants in School Foundry, the principal leadership and design incubator launched in 2017.
Armando Ortiz graduated from Highline Big Picture in 2011 and more recently from Central Washington University, where he served as student body president. As a ninth grader at Big Picture, Armando co-founded Unidos, a multi-racial school-based group to increase knowledge and advocacy related to Latino issues. As this group developed under his leadership, Armando brought together students of all races from across the district to learn about their own and each other’s cultures, co-develop safe and supportive community, and take political action to improve educational opportunities. He was also a founding participant and consistent leader in development of the now district-wide First People’s Center, a collective of school- and community-based organizations focused on Native wellness and advocacy. In his senior year Armando was one of two students from the Puget Sound region awarded the Princeton Prize in Race Relations for this legacy as well as his senior thesis project, in which he posed as a fellow student at three large comprehensive high schools to study the effects of the program Proyecto Saber on achievement and academic persistence among participating students. During the project he reflected on the challenge of being an objective observer and maintaining his cover while resisting the urge to actively motivate and encourage stronger advocacy and engagement among his peers. His collective efforts as a high school student suggest a theory of action that learning together about each other’s cultural histories both breaks down perceived barriers and differences and encourages seeing our collective struggles (against racism, prejudice, poverty, educational inequities, etc.) as much more compelling than inter-personal conflict.
Frequent visitors to Highline Big Picture often reflect on how students describe the school as an extended family. There are no cliques, and students describe a sense of safety from bullying in contrast to their previous schools. When asked how this came to be, students, rather than saying anything about adults at the school, often respond that if a (usually new) student puts someone down or acts like a bully, other students quickly intervene and clarify that “we don’t do that here,” and, more importantly, “YOU don’t need to do that here.” Armando was significantly responsible for developing and sustaining that school culture. The Consortium benefits from Armando’s guidance to better understand how to build a culture of college interest and persistence among students with negative school histories, and how to cultivate a strong student-led school community. We also recommend Armando as a powerful public speaker on any of the issues described here. In 2017 Armando was awarded Big Picture Learning's Alumni Action Award.
Linda Nathan is the Special Advisor to the Superintendent of Boston Public Schools. Her work focuses on how best to balance the opportunities that school autonomy presents with the need for all students in all schools to succeed. Linda was the founding headmaster of Boston Arts Academy, Boston’s only public high school for the visual and performing arts. Under her leadership, the school won state, national, and international recognition and awards, and over 94% of graduates go on to college each year. She also founded the Center for Arts in Education, the outreach, professional development, and arts advocacy arm of Boston Arts Academy and served as its Executive Director.
For over a decade, Linda has taught a course at the Harvard Graduate School of Education titled “Building Democratic Schools.” She has written a widely-praised book about teaching and leadership in urban schools, “The Hardest Questions Aren’t on the Test,” which was also published in Spanish. She consults nationally and internationally on issues of educational reform, leadership, teaching and arts. She blogs about these issues at www.lindanathan.com.
Linda holds a Doctorate in Education from Harvard University, a Master’s degree in education administration from Antioch University, a Master’s of performing arts from Emerson College, and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley. As a co-founder and co-director of Fenway High School in Boston, Linda was a critical mentor to Consortium Director Jeff Petty's early learning about small high schools during his internship there in the mid-1990's, and she more recently mentored the design of Out of the Box Learning Studio during Hannah Williams' year at Harvard.
Joanne McEachen, originally from New Zealand, is an internationally recognized educational expert now based in Seattle, Washington. She has the education, vision and insight needed to change schools and school systems. Joanne has had experience as a successful school Principal, a regional administrator and National Manager for the Ministry of Education in New Zealand. She has seen first-hand the importance of involving parents in their children’s education, and knows the positive difference it can make. She has led and managed country-wide education change initiatives by focusing on the most important outcomes and the fundamental values focused on learners.
Articulate, persuasive, and a great change leader, whatever project she has worked on has been successful for students. Joanne believes that there is an urgent need in education today to ‘stop the blame game’ for the systemic failure for the groups of children who are continuously being underserved and get on with it!
Joanne is relentless in her pursuit to reform education and believes every child can be and will be a successful learner. Joanne and her team have established The Learner First to unashamedly change the education system to prioritize equitable learning opportunities to ensure every single child succeeds.
Joanne's work with The Learner First is the most compelling change process we have seen for focusing large traditionally structured districts on whole-system change around the needs of individual learners, particularly those we've consistently left behind. She is an ongoing critical friend to our work with districts, clusters of innovating schools, and redesign of principal leadership pathways.
Dr. Tae Kim is a skateboarder, scientist, teacher, and digital artist. He earned his bachelor’s degree in physics from the Georgia Institute of Technology and his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has held faculty positions at Lake Forest College, DePaul University, and Northwestern University and currently serves as an advisor to Puget Sound Community School. Dr. Tae’s unorthodox use of skateboarding as an example of learning landed him an invitation to speak at the inaugural TEDxEastsidePrep conference. As a skateboarder, he’s best known for his consistent 360 flips, which fellow skaters have dubbed “Tae Flips”, earning him the nickname “Dr. Tae”. He is producing The Physics of Skateboarding with Dr. Tae, a video series which combines his interests in science, skepticism, skateboarding, and education. When the Los Angeles Times needed someone to explain the physics behind Jake Brown’s slam on the MegaRamp at X Games XIII, they called Dr. Tae. His unique expertise also caught the attention of Robomodo, the video game studio where Dr. Tae redesigned the control system for the wireless skateboard peripheral used with Tony Hawk: SHRED. As an independent software developer, Dr. Tae created Not YYZ, a whimsical musical app based on “YYZ” by the band Rush, and NBDbyMe, a productivity app designed for skateboarders and other action sports enthusiasts.
Consortium founder Jeff Petty discovered Tae's work through his video on Building a New Culture of Teaching and Learning. Tae continually pushes our thinking on what it means to be educated, what drives powerful learning, and what should be the priorities of school design.